The Balvenie Unveils Unparalleled Depth of Flavours with Cask Finishes Range Featuring Three New Expressions
(22 July 2022, Singapore) William Grant & Sons Singapore invited media to an exclusive launch of three new whiskies, from The Balvenie Cask Finishes Collection on 22 July at the Atlantic Dining Suite, Tower Club. Guests took in the view from the 62nd floor of Republic Tower and special cocktails made with The Balvenie new cask finished whiskies before sitting down to a specially curated whisky-paired menu. Mains were a choice of the excellent Roasted Australian Lamb Loin or Pan-Seared King Salmon Fillet.
Brett Bayly, Regional Brand Ambassador for The Balvenie South East Asia, (right) who hosted the event, explained that The Balvenie has unveiled three new cask finished whiskies as part of its Cask Finishes Range. “The three new expressions,” Brett stated, “reflect the brand’s commitment to its continued discovery of depthful flavours, while embodying the Speyside distillery’s honeyed signature style.”
The updated range includes The Balvenie Madeira Cask aged 15 years, The Balvenie French Oak Cask aged 16 years, and The Balvenie Pedro Ximénez aged 18 years. They complete the existing range consisting of The Balvenie Doublewood aged 12 years, The Balvenie Caribbean Cask aged 14 years, and The Balvenie Portwood aged 21 years.
Throughout the meal Mr Bayly introduced us to each whiskey and provide tasting notes. He pointed out that the new expressions were inspired by flavour journeys throughout wine making regions of Europe by The Balvenie team.
Perfecting the Craft of Cask Finishing
A nod to ultimate craftsmanship, the new expressions are a deep dive into flavour using Malt Master David C. Stewart MBE pioneering finishing process he innovated in 1982, which is now celebrated across the whisky world. This process involves taking whisky from a period of maturation and moving it into a different cask for a shorter period of maturation, adding a layer of flavour to the whisky that no other method can.
The Balvenie Makers recognise that making exceptional whisky requires time, patience, dedication, passion, and curiosity. In their commitment to making the very best whisky, the range explores time and flavour from the iconic The Balvenie Doublewood aged 12 years, right through to The Balvenie Portwood aged 21 years.
Starting with the The Balvenie Madeira Cask aged 15 years Mr Bayly pointed out that the nose was overflowing with flavours of blackcurrants and brambles slowly layered upon gingery syrup and delicate spice. The taste is a ripe fruitiness from fresh peaches that lead to a citrus orange zing, hazelnuts, and crisp oakiness coating the pallet, with a long-lasting finish. As you would expect from whiskey it packs a punch. The alcohol by volume (ABV) is 43%.
The First Cask saw several years of maturation in traditional American Oak whisky barrels which imparts warming layers of honey and vanilla for our sweet signature honeyed core flavour. The Second Cask was in Madeira casks that increases complexity, bringing notes of fresh peaches, oranges zing, and hazelnut.
The Brand Ambassador added, “The Balvenie’s Cask Finishes Range offers a unique range of rich and complex flavours, perfect for ardent lovers or newcomers who seek an exploration of whiskies like no other.”
The Balvenie French Oak Cask aged 16 years
Finishing our Heirloom Tomato Salad, we focused our attention on The Balvenie French Oak Cask aged 16 years. With its beautifully balanced light floral notes from lotus and geranium flowers the aromas dance between hints of fresh meadow grass and peeled apple skin while the taste is an energizing zing from tangy lemon rind and grapefruit that meet the delicate subtle sweetness of glazed fruits and spice from root ginger. The finish? Mr Bayly smiled over his tasting glass, “It is refreshingly concise.” The ABV reaches 46.9%.
The First Cask is years of maturation in American Oak casks that brings an abundance of vanilla spice and warm honey notes while the Second Cask is in Pineau casks that create notes of energising grapefruit, geranium, glazed fruit and ginger.
The Balvenie Pedro Ximénez Cask aged 18 years
I was well into the lamb when we began on the third glass – The Balvenie Pedro Ximénez Cask aged 18 years. The nose is a medley of flavours from raisin and bursting currants that intertwine oak and subtle cloves concealing smooth sweet lavender. The taste is a modern classic fruit fusion of tart grape skin, mandarin and fig that flow together with vibrant oak to coat the mouth with a delicate oil and honeyed sweetness. The Finish: “Unmistakable.” ABV: 48.7%.
The First Cask is many years of maturation in traditional American Oak whisky barrels that mellows the maturing spirit and imparts warming layers of honey and vanilla. The Second Cask finishing in Pedro Ximénez sherry butts creates a fusion of sweet lavender, mandarin, fig, and subtle clove.
We contemplated the whiskeys as we enjoyed dessert: Caramelized Peach with Almond Crumble Tart, and vanilla ice cream and raspberry compote. It was the perfect finish to an excellent meal.
Exploring the Flavours of The Balvenie
The new expressions were inspired by flavour journeys from The Balvenie team throughout wine making regions of Europe, featuring finishing casks from Madeira, southern Spain and, for the first time in the distillery’s 129 years of history, Pineau from the French Charentes vineyards. This trip followed US brand ambassador Lorne Cousin’s family trip to the region where David Stewart fondly recalled sipping an aperitif and urged him to experiment with it.
Pineau is akin to cognac in terms of production and flavour, creating energising notes in this delicious French Oak Cask aged 16 years. The Balvenie Madeira Cask aged 15 years is a lively and summery Single Malt finished in casks previously held in sweet Madeira wine. Having used casks from the volcanic island for older expressions in the past, David Stewart’s holiday there reignited his passion for Madeira’s versatile dessert wine and complex casks that led to the creation of this light, lively yet characterful whisky.
The second sherry finish for the Cask Finishes Range is The Balvenie Pedro Ximénez Cask aged 18 years. The sweet wine from the much-loved Pedro Ximénez casks gets its intensity from the sun-ripened vines making it the perfect sweet fusion for The Balvenie’s signature honeyed core.
Blending the Craftsmanship of Whisky with Art
To further bring the new expressions to life, The Balvenie collaborated with multi-award-winning artist and handcrafted illustrator, Owen Gildersleeve, (left) on a range of visual concepts for The Balvenie Cask Finishes Range, highlighting its dedication to craft, storytelling, and complexity of flavour.
The elements of the artwork, which include a series of animations and a pop-up book, handcrafted using a range of textured paper stocks. This attention to detail mirrors the focus on skill and craftsmanship that The Balvenie makers put into its whisky making.
“It’s always enjoyable working with brands and other creatives who are open to input and communication and who also have a great understanding of the process and time that goes into hand-crafted work such as this. These layered designs celebrate the warm depth of flavour in The Balvenie's whisky, bringing to life their various flavour profiles in a graphic hand-crafted manner, which fits well with the brand's luxurious feel and reined hands-on approach to making their whisky,” commented Owen Gildersleeve.
The Balvenie French Oak Cask aged 16 years is available on iShopChangi and selected 1855 The Bottle Shop outlets. The Balvenie Madeira Cask aged 15 years and The Balvenie Pedro Ximénez Cask aged 18 years are available exclusively at Travel Retail airport stores in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and more.
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